Rebels thrive at state swim/dive meet

Published 12:35 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

Boyle County had a strong showing at the state swim/dive meet in Louisville last weekend.

The Boyle girls placed 21st and the boys placed 14th. In the combined team scores, the Rebels placed 13th overall.

“This is the highest finish for the girls since 2011, for the boys since 2003 and combined the highest we have finished since I started coaching in 2002-03,” head coach Crystal Ellis said.

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The Rebels were led by their seniors in their last performances in the black and gold, and Ellis said this year’s state meet was fast across the board.

“The state meet this year was fast as a whole,” she said. “Our boys 400 free relay placed ninth overall this year and was two seconds faster than last year’s sixth place finish.”

Boyle had three school records broken at the state meet: Hunter Hayes, Creed Farthing, Jack Stomberger and Campbell Coyle set the record in the boys 400 yard freestyle relay, placing ninth; the girls’ medley relay of Jordan Farthing, Riley Cerqueira, Natalie Hayes and Ashton Cox placed 15th; Sarah Burns, Cerqueira, Natalie Hayes and Cox combined to place 14th in the girls 200 yard freestyle relay and another school record.

It was a special event for the girls in the 200 yard freestyle relay, Ellis said.

“When the girls 200 free relay finished, it was the last event at state, they had broken the school record, and three of the four girls are seniors, they came over to me and started crying and then I started crying too,” the coach said. “Riley Cerquiera, the freshman on the relay, said ‘I’m crying and I’m not even a senior!’ It was emotional for all of us. Those three have been swimming together since freshman year and now it’s over.”

The state meet is challenging, not just in scale but in terms of the timing of events, Ellis said.

“The kids are used to swimming boys and girls together and having that time to rest when the opposite sex is swimming,” Ellis said. “State is hard because all the boys swim in the morning and the girls in the afternoon so there isn’t as much rest as they are accustomed to. We had a couple girls that were in back to back events with 1-2 minutes in between, if that.”

On the diving side, Boyle sent four to state: Jared Stivers placed eighth overall in the diving competition, while John Masters placed 22nd and Tevin Leigh placed 29th on the boys side. Burns was 27th on the girls’ diving side.

Jared had a great meet,” Ellis said. “He went in to finals on Saturday in third, with three dives left. One of the dives he didn’t land as well as he normally does and he fell to eighth. He was disappointed, as we all were for him. He was our highest finisher at state this year. But he still has one more year and last year at state and this year too have been major learning opportunities and I think he will come back next year with even more determination and fight for that state championship.”

The team grew in diving but sent five last year to the state dive meet. Ellis is hopeful that the growth will translate to success at the state level next year.

“We had several new kids come out to dive this year,” she said. “They all improved a lot and I hope next year we can have more qualify for state. Unfortunately, we are also losing five seniors that dive, two of which qualified for state this year, so that will be tough.”

A strong year at state ended the high-school career of 12 Boyle swimmers and divers, and Ellis said it’s a special bunch that will leave the program.

“This senior group is special,” she said. “It’s one of those bittersweet moments, you are happy for them to go on to the next part of their life, but sad to see them go. However, they are leaving lots of younger swimmers on the team who are ready to step up and make their own mark breaking records.”